Before the 51st Annual Grammy Awards even got started in Los Angeles February 8, things began to go wrong. Chris Brown and Rihanna canceled their performances due to an altercation earlier in the day. Police were investigating a possible domestic violence charge against Brown by airtime.
U2 started the show off with their new hit “Get On Your Boots,” which, when all is said and done, sounds like a lackluster reworking of earlier pop attempts, such as “Discoteque” and “Mystery Girl,” that left their rock fans dazed and confused.
Then Whitney Houston, fresh from what looked like Botox injections and a couple facial tucks, haltingly grimaced her way through the opening presentation. She acknowledged Icon Clive Davis, Sony Music’s creative executive. By the time she got around to the actual presenting, it was simply a relief to see it over before her face completely seized up.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the designer of Jennifer Hudson’s dress suddenly went blind before making her outfit. How else could anyone explain that ruffled monstrosity that billowed from Hudson’s chest atop an otherwise lackluster black dress? Hudson was forced to wear the awful construct up on stage at the show’s beginning when she won Best R&B Album.
Carrie Underwood got all static-clingy with a gold streetwalker ensemble that distracted the audience long enough for no one to care that they had turned her country song into some amped up pop number.
And then rapper Jay-Z verbally assaulted Chris Martin of Coldplay, or at least that is what it sounded like, which was as close to nightmarish as it could get. Not that Coldplay’s strange appeal isn’t nightmarish enough on its own but the only thing that could have saved that abysmally boring number would have been Joe Satriani taking his axe to it.
Still, Coldplay and the duo of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss dominated the Grammy Awards. Coldplay won Best Rock Album, a category they should not have even qualified for, and Plant and Krauss won Album of the Year, plus the other four for which they were nominated.
Adele won Best New Artist.
Lil’ Wayne won Best Rap Album.
George Strait won Best Country Album.
The most annoying thing about the Grammy Awards in the past several years is the totally worthless idea of putting rap artists in with everybody else’s genre. It simply does not work as well as the producers think it does. In fact, it rarely works at all. The aforementioned Jay-Z rap with Coldplay’s Chris Martin is a case in point.
And then there was that horrid duet of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. It might have been a better performance had Miley Cyrus not been trying so hard to upstage her companion on a song better sung downplayed.
But pairing artists up for Grammy duets has become somewhat of a tradition, one they really should consider discontinuing. Pairing up the marginally talented Jonas Brothers with Stevie Wonder has to be the crime of the millennium thus far.
Still, the entire night wasn’t a bust. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss performed an excellent medley from the album “Raising Sand,” which won several Grammy Awards during the evening. The tribute to Bo Diddley with Keith Urban, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and John Mayer was a tour de force of energetic guitar-work. Jennifer Hudson, resplendent in a beautiful black gown (never underestimate the power of a costume change), sang an emotional number for her tragically departed family. Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo, Smokey Robinson and Duke Fakir performed an inspired tribute to the Four Tops. Paul McCartney sang “I Saw Her Standing There” with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Justin Timberlake sang with Al Green, Boyz II Men, and Keith Urban in a pretty good rendition of “Let’s Stay Together.” Kid Rock put in the best performance of the night with a medley from his Grammy-nominated “Rock N Roll Jesus” and a salute to Lynyrd Skynyrd pianist Billy Powell, who recently passed away.
So it wasn’t all bad.
Just half of it.
Which is not saying much for the show that is supposed to showcase the music industry’s best performers.
Perhaps the producers will include a few rock bands next year. And perhaps they might let the rappers rap, the rockers rock, and the pop stars lip synch without doing a cross-genre hybridization that not only ruins the songs they’re performing but forces artists to exhibit their limitations.
After all, the Grammy Awards are not Hollywood Week on “American Idol.”
For a complete list of Grammy Awards nominees and winners, see “2009 Grammy Awards Nominations And Winners (Major Awards List).”
“51st Annual Grammy Awards,” CBS Television